New Zealand voice networks recorded the highest call volumes in history this week. There was a peak on Tuesday following Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s announcement that the Covid–19 alert level was being raised from two to four and the country would begin a four-week lockdown.
All carriers experienced congestion and government call centres were overloaded with enquiries. The congestion affected both mobile and landline voice calling networks.
A Spark spokesperson says: “Following the prime minister’s Covid–19 announcement today, telecommunications providers experienced call volumes beyond any level of calling ever seen in New Zealand. This is creating significant congestion for voice calling at an industry-wide level.”
The TCF spoke for the industry saying telecommunications companies were working quickly and collaboratively to fix the issues arising from congestion.
Carriers called on phone users to switch to digital communications technologies using the nation’s fibre network to free up voice lines.
Customer service teams struggled to cope, in part because overseas call centres were closed or reduced in order to protect staff from infection risks, but also because of much higher call volumes.
Vodafone issued a plea to its customers to use the company’s mobile app, chatbot and website where possible to reduce the load on call centre staff. Customers were also directed to contact the company’s social media team which extended their hours to cope with the extra demand.
The company says: “Due to precautionary measures in New Zealand and internationally, our customer care teams are managing the impacts of Covid–19 while dealing with higher call volumes. We have major call centres in different offices in New Zealand and India, and a small specialist customer care team in the Philippines – and while we’re able to redirect work and calls for some customers between them, we are also planning for future impacts including what we can expect will be further increased restrictions on movement in cities worldwide.”